The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. (Proverbs 29:25, NASB)
Have you ever been encouraged to obey God and let the chips fall where they may? Easier said than done, right? King David’s instructive response in 1 Samuel 30 serves us well on this point: He encouraged himself in the Lord while facing distressing circumstances, widespread disapproval, and imminent, threatened demise at the hand of his countrymen when the Amalekites made living captives of the Israelites’ wives and children. Note that in verse 6 he encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord prior to obtaining God’s promise of full, assured victory in verse 8. David knew his God!
After seeking God’s direction, obtaining God’s assurance of complete success, and receiving marching orders to pursue the captors in order to retrieve the captives, David sprung to obedient action. The result? Mission accomplished. At the end “nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all” (1 Samuel 30:19). His example stands in stark contrast to King Saul whose life tragically and ironically ends in the very next chapter.
According to Proverbs 29:25 one is either scared and ensnared or assured and secured. (The word “exalted” is interestingly translated “safe” in some versions.) King Saul, who feared the people more than God and obeyed them in direct violation of the Lord’s command (1 Samuel 15:24), not only subsequently lost his kingship but disturbingly ended his own life. On the other hand, the prophet Samuel reverentially feared God throughout his lifetime: not just episodically in confronting Saul (1 Samuel 15), but he “ministered before the Lord, even as a child [emphasis added]” (1 Samuel 2:18), and “grew in stature and in favor both with the Lord and men [emphasis added]” (vs. 26).
So, which camp are you in? Or do you find yourself vacillating between the two based on who you’re with and what you’re facing? We might denounce situational ethics in one breath yet succumb to them with the next.
If we’re honest we’ll admit that we all struggle with this to varying degrees. But as we progressively know our God, we will increasingly live unto Him while reaping similar blessings. And since those who honor God are honored by Him (1 Samuel 2: 30) as the examples of David and Samuel show us, the elusive approval of man that people-pleasers unsuccessfully chase is often tossed in God’s hodgepodge reward for those who fear Him. And when it isn’t, God-pleasers are fine just the same knowing that although the chips might not fall where they would prefer them to, the boundary lines surely and eventually will (Psalm 16:6).
Melissa Smith is the Women’s Enrich Counselor at America’s Keswick. She has the privilege and honor of ministering to the colony men’s wives and girlfriends, the Barbara’s Place women, and some women from the community who God brings to America’s Keswick for help or care. She and Bill, her husband of 18 years, have four adopted children ages 17 to 24. Her fervent desire is to point women to Christ and His sufficiency, provision, and promises.